Southeast Alaska and Juneau, in particular, is special.
Why so many whales?
Many people don’t realize that the waters around Juneau are excellent for whale watching is because we have glacially-nourished waters. As the ice moves down from the Juneau Icefield, it deposits glacial silt into the waters below while slowly carving up mountain rocks. This finely ground sediment, enriched with essential minerals like phosphorus and iron, is what gives the water a cloudy, greenish-gray color. As glacial silt flows out to the ocean through rivers and waterways, it acts as fertilizer for our marine phytoplankton. Lots of phytoplankton, in turn, means water full of krill and herring; humpback whales’ favorite foods!
Aren’t krill really tiny? Humpbacks are HUGE! What’s the deal with that?
Funny you should ask. Some really smart people figured out that because of the way baleen whales eat, whales that strain seawater through filters in their mouths like humpbacks and blue whales, they expend less energy than toothed whales allowing them to have evolved into the biggest whales in the ocean.